PhD Proposal: Accounting for Differences in Outcome of the Arab Spring


 

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Research Questions, Hypotheses & Variables:

Why did the Arab Spring affect states differently? What accounts for these differences in outcome? This article seeks to address that very question.

In this research, I extend “Wimmer et al’s” model of ethnic conflict & exclusion to include ethno-religious groups in the Middle East. Ample literature has been written on the consequences of minority rule, especially in the Middle East, but there is little research on ethno-religious exclusion as the source of national instability. The typical variables considered are foreign intervention, religiosity or authoritarianism. My argument is that some states are more or less politically developed than others, and as such, exhibit a more sophisticated system that at the very least represents the majority ethnic fabric of the nation-state. Exclusive states tend to be less developed politically, and as such disenfranchise ethnic majorities leading to more instability.

Continue reading “PhD Proposal: Accounting for Differences in Outcome of the Arab Spring”

Accounting for Differences in Outcome of the Arab Spring


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Why did the Arab Spring affect states differently? What accounts for these differences in outcome? This article seeks to address that very question.

Globally, no state is a “perfect democracy” but some are obviously closer and more exemplary than others. Democracy is multi-dimensional meaning that there are components therein, all of which are necessary for its sustenance.

Regionally, this is also true – that some states are more or less democratic than others. Of all the MENA states only Tunisia is considered a “successful” democracy. Both Tunisia & Egypt enjoy more developed institutions than Libya & Syria, for example. One might attribute development to geography & history, given Egypt has been more autonomous than other Arab counterparts, but this doesn’t apply across the board, given Tunisia was part of the Ottoman Empire while Egypt was not.

Why did revolution fail to break-out in Saudi Arabia?

Libya is also an oil-rich state, but it was left ravaged. Oil was not a stabilizing force in Libya.

Saudi Arabia has a notoriously strong security apparatus, one that is tied directly to the ruling family, the House of Saud. The same is true in Syria, where an Alawite-dominated military has direct links with the ruling Assad “clan”. However the major difference is that Saudi Arabia is supported by America, unlike Syria.

States which experienced military invasions endured the worst outcome of the Arab Spring, versus countries that maintained autonomy. Compare the violence in Yemen, Syria & Libya to Saudi, Egypt & Tunisia, and the claim carries weight.

This can be extended to Iraq & Afghanistan, invaded by the US.

But why then has America stood by Saudi Arabia & flip-flopped on Syria?

The US switched from mildly opposing the Syrian regime under Obama to supporting it tacitly under Trump. This underscores that US policy is not monolithic, and there are two forces contending, with one seeking further democratization & the other benefitting from authoritarian neoliberal (neocolonial) constructs such as the Saudi or Syrian state.

Perhaps the extent of political development and institutionalization in Arab states like Egypt prevented foreign countries from being able to influence the trajectory of the demonstrations, whereas thoroughly guarded states like Saudi Arabia & Syria with almost no degree of democratic institution were able to suppress without much attention. Not only does Egypt have a sizable minority, it has institutional provisions & a political infrastructure which make it less vulnerable to chaos. Clearly Egypt is no democracy, and has in fact continued as an authoritarian state, but it also experienced peaceful revolutions, ousted two leaders. A mere change in the face of executive leadership is reassuring to the people about at least some sense of accountability and connect. This is arguably the result of the political infrastructure of the state which has democratic features such as separation of powers & independent judiciary.

Ultimately then it can be argued that while culturally Saudi Arabia and Syria are different, they are politically underdeveloped to a comparable degree, with few to no provisions in place meant to separate powers of the state or establish a mild sense of accountability among officials.

Thus the failure of the Arab Spring to overwhelm Saudi Arabia can be traced to the US decision to stand by the government, despite its authoritarian character.

If the neoliberal face of the Middle East is to be defeated, it must also be defeated in the US, meaning Trump must be replaced with a Democrat who is not at all inclined towards authoritarian governments.

Perhaps this why there was such a coordinated effort by various authoritarian governments across the world to influence the 2016 election in favor of Trump, who is more or less sympathetic to authoritarianism than his Democratic counterpart Hillary Clinton. Autocrats have no consistent agenda but self-preservation at any expense, so coordinating on this delicate issue even with “enemies” occurred.

Globalization has rendered the world inextricably linked no matter how much anti globalist nationalists tout otherwise. Since America is the world’s most powerful state, it is only sensible that changes in its domestic politics would have ripple effects, especially in the Middle East where it has been involved so long & the politics are so volatile.

Is it safe to conclude then that the chapter of revolution has not yet ended in the region?

Perhaps it will be easier to tell in 2020, unless of course Trump doesn’t make it that far.

Analyzing Political Undertones in Pop Culture Through Art


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There is generally speaking a list of artistic works that, despite their aesthetic greatness, are either historically misrepresentative & inaccurate or merely biased in context and coverage.

Some do justice, some don’t. Perception all depends on which angle you look at the subject. I wish for justice for all, but we must recognize, expose & bring to justice those distinct forces which cause & instigate violent political crime.

Munich, Waltz with Bashir, & Exodus, viewed as biased & racist. Black & Arab culture, disenfranchised, used, exploited, hung & dried.

A more accurate depiction of reality in the Middle East in Palestinian film Paradise Now.

Another, more realistic representation of the ME in a scene from Syriana, which features George Clooney & Matt Damon.

How Hollywood & all of western media distorts reality through film & other mediums of mass mainstream expression.

This rather, light film depicts the similarities, and differences, between the Arab & Israeli people. But recognition of Israel implies two things: treachery to the Arab cause; abandoning the human rights of the Palestinian nation.

Is it unfair for the international community to suggest that the Jews are fine without a state called Israel? The difference between the need for an Armenian state, for example, versus a Jewish one, is that the former is completely ethnic-based while the latter is a hybrid of religion, culture and language. This makes it difficult to place importance on the need for a Jewish state while ignoring Palestinian self-determination.

Individuals like Helen Thomas get blacklisted for making comments such as those in the video below:

If there is a moral arc of the universe, it bends in favor of the Westerner & the lighter-skinned.

Secularizing the Conversation on the Occupation of Palestine


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Secularizing the conversation on the Palestinian genocide, actually threatens the pro-Israeli argument. It has to. Israel, by nature, is a religious entity — despite efforts by any spokesperson to suggest otherwise.

Secularizing the conversation on the conflict between Palestinian nationalism & international occupation, deems Israel a theocratic apartheid-state.

Secularization, by nature, requires religious & cultural diversity, egalitarianism and in contrast, rejects elitism, exclusivism & bigotry.

Palestinians outnumber the populations of Israelis by almost 4 million. Arabs outnumber the Jews. And yet, the State of Israel, which represents the minority population, protected by self-righteous Western colonialists, remains probably the only Middle Eastern country that is part of the 1st world, with flee-flowing goods, access to technology, industry and mobility within the international economic community. The majority, the Palestinian nation, made up largely of Arabs, Armenians, Jews, Muslims & Christians, are left largely disenfranchised from the entire conversation, deeming the State of Israel an apartheid-entity, comparable to South Africa.

Can America, Israel, or any one of the countries in the international community which claim — self-righteously — to be a ‘full-fledged’ democracies put their money where their mouth is? Because I wonder: how can a democracy exist within the confines of a nation-state if it is constantly trading & doing business with corrupt non-democratic states, like Saudi Arabia, Israel, China, Russia & Qatar?

The self-righteous attitude which gives the US (& Europe) the audacity to criticize foreign countries for their “non-democratic values” serves as the premise for imperialism & economic inequality in the world. America’s entire economy thrives off Chinese pseudo-communism. How can we claim to be the democratic police of the world?

In the 21st century we continue to falsely imprison our own citizens, kill & permit racism towards our own people — how can we make this bold claim?

The Republican Party’s unrelenting support for Israel has strangled US foreign policy largely up until the election of President Obama who has to some degree casted a grey cloud over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The rise of ISIS has prompted further inquiry into the role played by US allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar & Israel in the spread of fundamentalism in the region, which has been exporting itself to the West since the 1970s for the most part. Monarchy is Saudi Arabia is comparable to Israeli-apartheid in Palestine. The Gulf country is largely responsible for rise in pseudo-Islamic terrorism. It is one of the few countries that continues to maintain a behind-the-doors type of agreement with Israel and major world powers, “oil-for-weapons”, as it is called.

It happens to be that jihadis work well with Israel because like Israelis they are paid agents working to serve the cause of colonialism and distortion of reality by associating attacks with religion. In fact terrorists of “Islamist” and “Zionist” persuasion slander both religions. Neither religion, in essence, would endorse irrational violence. The bond between jihadis and Zionists in close, exemplified in the Faisal-Weissman agreement, a formal document which recognizes the Jewish right to existence in mandatory Palestine under a new state called Israel. The extreme version of the Jewish narrative for a return to ancient Israel sits well with many of the Middle East’s despotic monarchs and tyrannical governments — often propped up by Western governments themselves.

Secularizing the conversation on the conflict also means that I will place a noticeable effort to avoid referring to the political entity as Israel but rather as the modern, 21st century colonial-outpost of the West & broader imperial global elite. I will refer to groups like Hezbollah as military organizations, and I will make the distinction clear between Hezbollah, an organized nationalistic, military-resistance initiative  versus pseudo-Islamic terrorist networks working for foreign agents such as ISIS, al-Qaeda & al-Nusra. These will be referred to as such so as to prevent the slandering of Islam as well as the legitimization of arbitrary colonialism disguised as “international security initiatives”.

Furthermore I would also like to make the point that the Zionism’s greatest source of support doesn’t come from Jews. Firstly, American Jews are largely disenchanted with Israel. Secondly, the Jewish community in Israel is comparatively minute. So where does the immense support for Zionism come from? The elite must garner support from an ignorant mass. Seeing as how religion and extremist ideology are the best tools for collective sedation and rallying.

Christian-Zionism emanates mainly from the US & parts of the European continent. It is resembles ideologies like fascism, Messianism, Bolshevism, nazism, militant-atheism, anarcho-capitalism & Wahhabism. Based on the common denominator of superiority, these groups reflect one another’s violent intolerance.

A question to the ADL. I applaud what you stand for. Can I ask:

Is it not possible to refrain from associating anti-semitic discrimination of any kind with social activism against apartheid? Are the two not mutually exclusive?

Final thoughts:

The world expects Israel’s desperate search for/protection of a homeland after the horrors of the Holocaust to take precedence over the Palestinians’ right to self-determination…and will make their right to existence more important than Palestine’s. Settlement-expansion does not convince anyone of the possibility of an actual two-state solution (completely delegitimized). Furthermore the religious & post-WWII argument for the existence of a Jewish state still does not provide a moral, logical solution to the problem of Palestinian self-determination & human rights. This suggests a failure on the part of the international community to properly address the Jewish question of state-hood. The religious narrative coupled with history shows that the Jews have been well-established themselves in various nations of prominence for centuries, in Russia, the US, France, the UK, Argentina & Brazil. Pre & Post-Holocaust, the Jews enjoyed affluence, equality & prominence. Why the need for an extended colony if it requires a second holocaust of an entire nation, the Palestinians? Furthermore, the triumph of democracy in the twentieth century over fascism & anti-semitism shows that despite isolated incidents, the West remains a safe haven for semites of all backgrounds.

References:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/history/2015/02/israelis_and_arabs_contested_history_victims_don_t_have_the_right_to_rewrite.html

Is Assad anti-Western?


Since even before what has been pinned — by mostly the Western community — as the ‘Arab Spring’, the rhetoric we’ve heard from President Bashar al-Assad is rather anti-western.

Mr. Assad has accused Western nations, from the U.S. to the U.K. of meddling in Syrian affairs, of trying to destabilize his country, of supporting Israeli expansionism in region as well as arming and mobilizing various extremist and/or terrorist groups in the region.

He has criticized the West for what he deems a continued policy of imperialism and colonialism that endured through the entirety of the twentieth century and for centuries before. 

President Assad also argues that forces within Western societies (and governments mainly) are bent on portraying all movements for national sovereignty in the Middle East and elsewhere as a security threat to the international community. He points to Western media conglomerates, lobbyists, and spies and blames them for fabricating lies as pretenses for war, as in the case of the war in Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the cold-war between Iran and the West. 

President Assad has also criticized the West for its double-standards, championing democracy on one end and supporting anti-democratic, extremist terrorist groups on the other. He looks to the West’s strongest Arab allies in the Middle East, and notices that only kings and democracies get along. 

The question of whether President Bashar al-Assad is anti-western is a complicated one, especially because the man is a champion of secularism, social liberalism, liberal Islam, and economic prosperity. His main opponent is extremism, which spills over from the Gulf, and armed conflict, which is mainly instigated by Israel. 

Therefore it seems that President Bashar al-Assad is not anti-Western, but rather, that he is opposed to the foreign policies of Western nations which, he argues, are contrary to the philosophical foundations of Western society. 

Obama 2012


Al I gotta say, is f*** the lies, the rumors, and the ignorance. Voting for Obama means voting for individual liberty and a liberal foreign policy. All the other shit doesn’t matter. Romney is a liar and an arrogant politician who thrives on elitism and hypocrisy, Obama is a humble man who simply wants to enact what should be in order for America to serve not only the wealthy, but also those who are underprivileged, or simply those who don’t have the time to focus on political issues due to their careers. There’s nothing wrong with that. Vote Obama, vote truth.

I’m not sure if Obama is our savior, and I’m not sure he is going to bring us everything we want. In fact, no one can be sure of what the future holds, the only thing we can do is trust our emotions, our convictions, and consider the facts. At the end of the day, facts can be used to justify any position, which is why we have two sides to begin with, Republicans and Democrats, who are both CONVINCED they are correct because they have “facts” to support them.

It all comes down to your convictions people. Trust in your intuition, in your beliefs, in your faith, not in discursive thought, not in vanity and arrogance, and certainly not in fear of anything but God.

I support President Obama because I BELIEVE in him, I believe in his message, and I believe he is a God fearing man. I believe President Obama is the only candidate who has the potential to revitalize America and to rekindle relations between America and the rest of the world, including our enemies.

If I am wrong, I am wrong, but I believe I am not, and my beliefs come from a far away place.

It is time for Americans to understand that politics — and life, for that matter — is not about being right, or being smart, or being cool. Politics, like life, is about being honest, and honestly, President Obama is that man in my eyes.

Part II: Barbara Walters & Bashar al-Assad


As Part II of my segment on the Full Barbara Walters interview with Bashar Al-Assad, which was, to our intellectual misfortune, not aired on national television in its full length, I will provide the highlights of the interview, summarizing key points and, more specifically, those that have been largely overlooked by analysts, the media, and the international community.

When Barbara Walters asked Bashar al-Assad why he believed the United Nations was not a credible institution, he responded with the following:

“They never implemented any of the resolutions that are related to the Arab World, to the Palestinians, the Syrian land. If they talk about human rights, what about the Palestinians suffering in the occupied territory. What about my land and my people that left their land because it is occupied by Israel?”

Barbara Walters then asked Assad about Turkey and the Arab League’s more aggressive approach to Syria, more specifically, the recent sanctions they slapped against Syria.

“Turkey and the Arab League have a hidden agenda. They don’t care about the demonstrations, the Syrian people, democracy,” Bashar responded.

“We still have good relations with neighboring countries.”

“Does the Arab League want to destroy you?” Walters replied.

“You have to ask them. I don’t know their will to be frank.”

“Will you allow outside monitors to come into your country, and to allow them to go to cities like Homs?”

“Yes”

“Under what circumstances?”

“To be in line with our sovereignty.”

“What does that mean?”

“To do everything in cooperation with the Syrian government: how to move, how to prepare, how to protect them. We asked for monitors before they (the Arab League) did. They didn’t want to discuss with us. If they don’t want to discuss, then no.”

“Can outside foreign reporters come? They have not been allowed.”

“No – they were allowed, and you are here.”

“I am here and I have a correspondent here with me.”

“But you’ve been here for two days now. Did anybody tell you where to go and where not to go? Nobody. You are free to go wherever you want.”

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Author’s Note: This is the end of Part II. Part III will be coming shortly and will be comprised mainly of the segment of the interview during which Bashar speaks about his wife, his father, his brother, and his children.